Latest news

Visitors to NIWA’s stand at this year’s Fieldays are invited to go diving into the Rotorua lakes—without having to get wet.
Scientists have launched a worldwide crowdsourcing competition aimed at finding novel ideas to tackle invasive marine pests, with a cash prize of $US10,000 on offer.
Every year NIWA carries out numerous marine surveillance missions, surveys at ports and harbours around the country. Their divers are looking for the pests that have hitched a ride to New Zealand waters and are capable of destroying our unique ecosystems and shellfish industry.

When you are at the beach or harbours this summer, don't be surprised if you see sea squirts - marine animals we commonly see attached to rocks and wharf piles that have two siphons on the top of their bodies, one to draw in water and the other to expel it. When disturbed, sea squirts contract their siphons, expelling streams of water—hence their name.

Our work

This project seeks to understand and better implement a Māori perspective within the current marine biosecurity system in New Zealand.
A significant threat to the biosecurity of New Zealand's freshwater habitats comes from plants that have been intentionally introduced.
Of the more than 70 aquatic plant species naturalised in New Zealand, more than 75% have become problem weeds or have been assessed as having the potential to become future problem weeds. Most of our lakes, rivers and streams are affected by at least one of these species.

Understanding how material released into the ocean spreads is very important in the case of oil spills, sediment transport and the release of invasive species. 

Latest videos

Diving deep to check up on our lakes

NIWA scientists jump overboard to check out the health the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes. The work is part of NIWA's national LakeSPI programme—an ecological health check for lakes throughout New Zealand. 
Underwater research to protect and maintain New Zealand's freshwater resources.

Robotic vehicle on the lookout for biosecurity pests
Foreign marine pests can threaten our marine life and it’s important to find them early before they can set up home here.

A NIWA science technician used his scientific diving skills to prove his love, when he found his lost wedding ring at the bottom of Wellington harbour.

In a collaborative study, echosounder surveys of the lower reservoir at ZEALANDIA, the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, show that electro-fishing and netting have successfully reduced perch numbers in the conservation safe haven.

NIWA combines systematics and taxonomic expertise and resources to help meet the requirements of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and related international initiatives. Our biosecurity work ranges from identifying invasive marine species to managing aquatic weeds.

What risk from alien fish?

Koi carp – a high-risk alien species. (Photo: NIWA)

The risk posed by alien fish to our freshwater species and habitats can now be evaluated using a model developed by NIWA scientists. The Freshwater Fish Risk Assessment Model (FRAM) assesses the risk of new alien fish species becoming established in New Zealand, and, importantly, their capacity to damage the environment, giving an overall ‘ecological risk’.
FRAM is powerful and simple to use.

Applying the science: didymo

Didymo predictive maps, quantifying the potential threat from didymo to any river reach in New Zealand, are now in use, thanks to work by NIWA scientists. Potential percentage didymo cover and mat thickness can be mapped, based on models combining what is known about didymo biology with specific river and climate features.

Epic Antarctic voyage complete: analysis begins

Applying the science: didymo

Major port biosecurity surveillance underway

What risk from alien fish?

Major Antarctic biodiversity voyage underway

Sea ice effects on Ross Sea food webs

A sexy lure for perch

Weedbusting at the border

NIWA co-hosts global marine biodiversity meeting

Promising results from GemexTM field trials

The GemexTM pumping rig (NIWA’s Neil Blair is on the left) at Princhester Creek. (Photo: Bill Jarvie, Fish & Game Southland)

NIWA’s role in the battle against didymo took a significant step when it conducted a carefully orchestrated field trial to test control possibilities in Southland in February.
NIWA has been researching the chelated copper product, GemexTM, which was released into Princhester Creek, a tributary of the Mararoa River, at a prescribed rate over an hour on a single afternoon.

Keeping pest plants at bay

John Clayton records vegetation in Lake Dunstan. (Photo: Aleki Taumoepeau, NIWA)

Aquatic weeds pose a particular biosecurity problem in New Zealand. Plants are the key drivers of aquatic ecosystems, so the wrong plant in the wrong place can cause major disruptions to the natural ecological balance.
The NIWA freshwater biosecurity group, led by Dr John Clayton, has recently received $1.35 million from the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology to expand their programme on freshwater plants.

Keeping pest plants at bay

Promising results from GemexTM field trials

Seamount research extended

NIWA's biosecurity expertise sought in Middle East

NZ seabed biodiversity probed

New caddisfly species revealed

Of troglobites and troglophiles

Getting to grips with New Zealand Crustacea

Alien worms - frequent international travellers

Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service - 12 months on

Researchers from NIWA will be surveying marine habitats in Kaikoura for foreign organisms next week (14–20 May).

Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service - 12 months on

NIWA’s Marine Invasives Taxonomic Service (MITS) handles all identifications of marine species for MAF Biosecurity New Zealand. MITS has been up and running for just over 12 months now, with a constant flow of incoming samples from port surveys, vessel biofouling, surveillance, and other Biosecurity New Zealand projects. MITS also identifies occasional samples intercepted at the ‘border’ by MAF Quarantine or found by members of the public.
More than 15 000 samples, collected from 15 ports and more than 370 vessels, have been received for identification.

Alien worms - frequent international travellers

Helobdella europaea with proboscis. Unlike blood-feeding leeches it doesn’t have sharp teeth. The leech is about 15 mm long. (Photo: Geoff Read, NIWA)

NIWA scientists are often the first to detect and identify new alien aquatic organisms after they arrive in New Zealand and establish in our marine and freshwater environments. Many worms are among the animals that frequently arrive on our shores.
For instance, three very different foreign worms have all been found here recently. The freshwater leech Helobdella europaea (pictured) has been found in Taupo and Auckland.

Info Archive
Boothroyd, I.K.G. (2000). Biodiversity and biogeography. In: Collier K.J. & Winterbourn, M.J. (eds). New Zealand stream invertebrates: Ecology and implications for management, pp 30-52. New Zealand Limnological Society, Christchurch.
Collier, K.J. (2001). Measuring stream invertebrate biodiversity. Water & Atmosphere 9(3): 14–15.
Collier, K.J. (2001). Stream diversity breaks records. Biodiversity Update 3: 8.
Collier, K.J.; Smith, B.J.; Quinn, J.M.; Scarsbrook, M.R.; Halliday, N.J.; Croker, G.F.; Parkyn, S.M. (2000).

Styela clava at Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand.

The first line of defense in the fight against aquatic weed invasions is public awareness and the ability to tackle weeds before they get out of hand – at the first sign of a new plant, rather than a total infestation.
Options for what to do once an aquatic weed problem has been identified.
Regardless of the weed control option chosen, it is important to monitor the results of control actions. Monitoring answers the key question of whether the desired outcomes are being achieved.
Aquatic plants may require managing when too much or too little vegetation exists.
Find out how to manage aquatic weeds.



All staff working on this subject

Population Modeller
Principal Scientist - Freshwater Ecology
Manager - Coasts and Oceans
Assistant Regional Manager - Christchurch
Marine Biology Technician
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Marine Invertebrate Systematist
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Regional Manager - Wellington
Fisheries Scientist
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Environmental Monitoring Technician
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Freshwater Ecologist
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Marine Ecology Technician
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Environmental Scientist
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Principal Technician - Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
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